• Nov 8, 2009
A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that hybrid vehicles are more likely to be involved in accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists under certain scenarios. According to state-level accident data, 77 of 8,387 hybrid vehicles (that's .9 percent) were involved in crashes with pedestrians and 48 (.6 percent) were found to have been in accidents with bicyclists.

By way of comparison, 3,578 of 559,703 non-hybrid vehicles (.6 percent) were involved in pedestrian accidents and 1,862 (.3 percent) were involved with bicyclists. Tellingly, the NHTSA data shows that hybrid vehicles are twice as likely as non-hybirds to be involved in pedestrian or bicyclist accidents at low speeds when the internal combustion engine is not running.

These statistics are not a complete representation of all accidents nationwide, and NHTSA is quick to point out that additional research is necessary before any final conclusions can be made. Still, this is valuable data that "should serve as a guide when designing future HEV pedestrian and bicyclist crash prevention programs."

[Source: NHTSA - PDF via Consumer Reports]


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  • 35 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Make manditory law(s) to have Hybrids make engine noise. Sh*t, put a little speaker in it where you can change your engine sound. Vrrrrooom vrooom! End of problem.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well. Did they take into account that hybrids and such are over represented in cities. That were they are best. And that's where pedestrians and cars interact most.
      I guess once could say diesels are safer for pedestrians...
      • 5 Years Ago
      i've been saying this for ages! people can't hear hyrbids in towns so they don't move to get out of the way! if we all drove v8 super cars, we'd all be safer! ;)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nope. A modern car at a low speed pretty much makes only tire noise, which is about the same noise you get with a hybrid.

        However, with a hybrid, you get this high-pitched noise when it's in EV mode. Maybe some people can't hear that high frequency, but you should still be able to hear the tires. The engine fan can also be running as well when in EV mode, so it's even less of an excuse at that point.

        The belief that hybrids are super stealth kill vehicles is such a lie to anyone who has actually been around cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Key pieces of missing information that makes this data totally, totally useless: average number of miles and hours driven by hybrids compared to traditional vehicles.

      If hybrids see more time on the road -- perhaps because they're used more by people who drive more -- this would be a totally expected stat.

      I'd expect more from NHTSA. Either they didn't understand their own stats, or they're just trolling for attention without any regard for accuracy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Its the old saying "lies, damn lies and statistics". By leaving out certain data you can make the other data say whatever you want. Like the insurance companies that pull up data showing young males have more accidents than young females... but if you looked at accidents / distance driven its the same, just that young males drive more. But by leaving that part out, they can charge young males more for insurance than young females. Bastards.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Matt,

        I don't see how that would be a distinction from an insurance company's perspective. You're not paying insurance by the mile; if there's a group that spends more time on the road, there's more of a chance that group will cost the insurance company money.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saying that electric cars are too quiet is like saying politicians are honest statesmen.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've seen a lot of Pruis drivers fly down the highway (probably) using more gas than me. I wouldn't be surprised if they drive like dopes because they feel like they are doing good by owning an "environmental" car. Killing people is certainly sustainable practice.

      I'm not trying to put down hybrid owners, but there are obviously a number of factors. I would say the leading cause is that the cars are very quiet and pedestrians cannot hear them coming. Maybe they can produce special hybrid tires that make more outside noise for pedestrians to hear.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is the worst way to calculate statistics I've ever seen.

      They compared the percentage of cars that were involved in accident with pedestrian, but what they should have done is adjust it per mile driven in the city. If a truck is never driven in the city, it has 0 chance of hitting a pedestrian, while Hybrids are mostly driven in cities, and it has more chances to hit pedestrian simply becase number of city miles per hybrid car is more.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not conclusive enough.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If insurance companies succeed in charging on a per mile basis, more and more, than they already do (how far do you commute? is an application question now) will they CREDIT policy holders for miles NOT DRIVEN? Fat chance!
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's more likely because hybrids are more used in cities, but I think hybrids' lack of noise emission at low speeds (electric-only mode) in the cities have a role as well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Do what Clarkson and May did... take a car and dub it with a Gallardo V10 sound track.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmJq1shphlM

      I want a Volt that makes ZR1 noises.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Do they account for the fact that many hybrids are found in urban environments, where they are more likely to encounter pedestrians and cyclists? Hybrids are all over SF, Boston, NYC... also places with tons of peds and bikes.
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